Saturday, April 07, 2007

No sex please, we're Arabs

I think when it comes to sex, honour, women and taboo, there is much in Middle Eastern societies which has yet to be discussed in the open. Those who harken(hearken?!?!) back to an Islamic golden age seem to forget or ignore the attitude of "Hadith wa la Haraj" (Talk and no embarrassment) which was prevalent in that time period. On the other hand, and I may be wrong as I haven't done much research on this, in spite of some of the refreshing changes that Western modernisation brought along, conceptions of sex and the nature of the relationship between man and woman has not been one of these. Feminism and it's many different schools of thought has certainly given food for thought in some avenues, but in many, it remains muddled and unclear as to what it is after and leaves those wishing to engage them dazed and confused. I'm sure I would be shouted down by many feminists and I apologise (my own understanding of it has been through the hazy lense of International Relations) for offending. I feel that the marriage of Western feminism, along with angry Anglo-Saxon feminism, and modernising trends in the region without taking into account the opinions of Arab and Muslim women in the Middle East has left a muddled, confused mess which hasn't been effectively nor openly discussed. How men are supposed to react to this, whether in what they consider "traditional" terms or "open-mind" as one Syrian comedy parodies, is equally confusing. This is probably aggravated by the prevalence of satellite channels and the internet, which bring that biggest taboo of all "Porn" just a click away. The potential result, the biggest ticking time bomb of unfulfilled sexual frustration, coupled with a "lad" culture which commodifies females and cheers for the stud with the biggest level of sexual conquests or female attention. Some women too, revelling in this preponderence of "negative" freedoms, seem to relish the prospects of competing in a catwalk of costumes which make them look like complete prostitutes. A 24 hour stint I had in Dubai international airport showed me that, and after 6 hours it wasn't even amusing anymore. For those who know me, that had to be really bad for me to say this.

The situation can't simply be ignored, though I warn opportunist demagogues that the situation of women in more, ahem, developed regions of the world is not free from problems either. Infinitely better running economies and a relaxed attitude cannot hide the fact that there is also gross inequality between men and women in the West. The capitalist trend of making women into saleable commodities linked to that base human instinct, lust, is not liberating. That and many other factors all contribute to a growing list of negative freedoms which people in the West also suffer from, but that is a post for another day.

Liberated or enslaved?


abufares said...

I really like this post of yours.
Very balanced, very well put together.
You're also right in your conclusion. Having been, as you have, on both sides of the lake, I have my own serious doubts as whether the conditions of women, I even daresay men, are any better there than they are here.
Of course it's a personal opinion many would shrug off instantly. And, to make it more uncomfortable for me, those who agree do so for entirely the wrong reasons.
Again, thanks for this post.

Golaniya said...

This was taken from the article you recommended:

"Masturbation with pornography allows convenience, our true passion, to trump actual sex, permitting an endless series of novel moments of passive, purely individual, totally unrestricted choices amongst inexhaustible options."

This is really interesting. I never thought that harassment might substitute sex. Of course I am not talking here that harassment emerged out of sexual needs, but I think it is the "sex" that has been distorted as woman's humanity.

Your analysis is panoramic; I should think more of the whole context.
Thank you for the article, quite stimulating.
Can we add it to our blog when it is ready? Are you interested in joining our team?

Off the topic question, what's your take on Damascus Spring Declaration, if there are any?
I'd like to hear your view on the matter.

Wassim said...

Hi Razan,
I'm glad you liked the article, feel free to add it to your blog when it is ready too. I'd love to be involved in an online collaboration with you guys, but I'm not sure how valuable my contribution would be. It's just that this particular topic is a little new to me and my knowledge on it is limited! Still, with what little I can give, I'm happy to help so count me in.

Now, about the Damascus Spring Declaration, my initial take on it is there is a genuinely honest current of men and women in Syria who wish the best for the country. These do not include the false NSF or sexually transmitted diseases such as Farid Ghadry. Since you're looking for professionalism, enlightened Arabism and autonomous Syrianism, I figure you're blog points in the right direction as that pretty much sums up what I'm looking for too.

Still, I'm not diving into it fully yet as I have to finish my degree which is supremely important to me for personal reasons. Till then (1 more month), I'll be sniping from the sidelines :)

Wassim said...

Thanks Abu Fares,
I'm glad you found it interesting and informative! I think there is much more that can be discussed about this but it also needs people to start, which can't be bad, still like many things in our region, the principled path of approaching this is I feel, a slippery and very thin path from which one could very easily end up being somewhere they wouldn't want to be.